Egypts Mursi calls for dialogue makes concession to opponents

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But opposition members have already spoken out against Mursi's address. Abu Ezz al-Hariri, a member of dissolved parliament, said whoever accepts dialogue with the Mursi will "betray the revolution."

Also, Egypt's opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, is assessing Mursi's offer to hold a national dialogue after the Islamist leader sparked a crisis by expanding his powers, a spokesman for the group said on Thursday.

"We are still assessing the president's speech and call for talks. We are discussing it with our members and youths," the alliance spokesman, Hussein Abdel-Ghani, told Reuters.

A leading Egyptian pro-democracy movement rejected Mursi's call for dialogue on Thursday and said it would take part in a protest against the head of state.

The "April 6" movement, which played a prominent role in igniting the revolt against Hosni Mubarak, made the announcement on its Facebook page. It said Friday's protest would be called the "red card" for Mursi.

The address came as opposition protesters marched towards the presidential palace calling for his ouster.

Hundreds of Mursi supporters who had camped out near the palace overnight withdrew before a mid-afternoon deadline set by the Republican Guard, an elite unit whose duties include protecting the palace. Scores of opposition protesters remained, but were kept away by a barbed wire barricade guarded by tanks.

The military played a big role in removing President Hosni Mubarak during last year’s popular revolt, taking over to manage a transitional period, but had stayed out of the latest crisis.

Mursi’s Islamist partisans fought opposition protesters well into the early hours during dueling demonstrations over the president’s Nov. 22 decree to expand his powers to help him push through a mostly Islamist-drafted constitution.

Troops set up a perimeter around the presidential palace on Thursday to keep protesters away after a night of deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi, an AFP correspondent said.

Soldiers set up barbed wire barricades some 150 meters (yards) from the palace compound, after first ordering rival protesters to leave the area.

Mursi supporters left the area but several hundred opposition activists gathered in a square around 300 meters away.

Officials said five people were killed and 762 wounded in the violence, the al-Ahram newspaper reported, for which each side blamed the other. Six of the dead were Mursi supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood said.

Prosecutors investigating the unrest said Brotherhood members had detained 49 wounded protesters and were refusing to release them to the authorities, the state news agency said.

The Brotherhood’s spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan denied this, saying all “thugs” detained by members of the Islamist group had been handed over to the police or the Republican Guard.

The street clashes reflected a deep political divide in the most populous Arab nation, where contrasting visions of Islamists and their liberal rivals have complicated a struggle to embed democracy after Mubarak’s 30 years of one-man rule.

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